I heard a story yesterday on WayFM about Lauren Daigle appearing on Ellen. The segment was good – Lauren was great as a performer, Wally, the host, did a great job interviewing her, and the conversation was meaningful and insightful. The part that surprised me was the reaction the segment got.
If your life is too hectic to read or listen to it, long story short: Lauren Daigle (a Christian music artist) performed on the Ellen Show, and the Wally Show (a Christian Radio morning show) invited Lauren on to talk about her experience with Ellen. And invited listeners to watch the segment online. Lots of listeners got really angry about some things that Wally deeply disagreed with, so he wrote about it.
Got it? Let’s move on…
Before we get started it’s important to know a few things:
- I’m a Christian, too. Baptized when I was 8. Worship leader for many years. This post is not meant to attack the Church. I am the Church. Anything I say about Christians, applies to me, too.
- The conversations and statements below are not happening in Christian spaces only. The world is watching and hearing these statements, making their own judgments about we are and how we love.
- All of this applies to me, too. I know I already wrote that, but I want to be sure it’s emphasized. I heard echoes of my own heart in all of the statements Wally’s listeners made – my struggles are just with a different group of people.
Now that we have that straight, three things our reactions to the Wally Show teach us about ourselves:
1. We often think we’re the moral police instead of being subversive cheerleaders.
The Evangelical culture has long been involved in trying to create a nation full of moral behavior through legislation, force, and coercion. We have focused so much of our energies on transforming behavior without trying to transform hearts through sacrificial love and generosity. We have become a culture full of Pharisees, condemning anyone that does not meet the standards of behavior we’ve created on our own.
We have it backwards. When we look to Jesus we see an entirely different method of transforming the world. Jesus loved without strings. Yes, he told people to repent and sin no more, but that was after he had already invested himself in their well-being. He demonstrated his love for them by eating with them, healing them, and living amongst them. Then, after they knew he saw them, understood them, and loved them, he would tell them to repent. He didn’t tell them to repent out of anger or disappointment or fear, he told them because he loved them.
Too often, we Christians tell people to repent because they are making us uncomfortable or because they are making us angry or because of some other insidiously selfish reason. As Lauren said, “It’s not up to me to choose who I’m supposed to love.” First we love, then we love some more and let Jesus do his work.
2. We like to point out the sins of others, especially when we do not struggle with them.
In the Aftercast about this, Zach mentioned how Wally often brings up Ryan Seacrest, who lives with his girlfriend, yet they haven’t had any phone calls from angry listeners about him. It could be that most WayFM listeners believe Seacrest is a morally upstanding man, but I would guess it’s more likely that we find Seacrest’s sin less icky.
The Church is full of sexual and marital sin. Our rates of pornography addiction, divorce, and cohabitation are nearly as high as it is for people who do not attend church. I have not heard many speeches, protests, or angry phone calls about how Christian radio is promoting those same issues when they talk about Seacrest, Oprah, or Donald Trump.
Perhaps the world would find us more respectable and trust us more if we concerned ourselves with our own sins and shortcomings rather than focusing on one or two sins that most of us do not struggle with. I imagine this is why Jesus told us to focus on the plank in our own eye, rather than the speck of dust in our neighbor’s.
3. We think we’re being attacked by the world, but really we’re the ones invading it.
One of the most common statements I hear in regards to homosexuality is that “they are pushing their agenda on us.” The truth of this statement does not really matter. Maybe there is some secret, organized strategy from the LGBTQ+ community to transform our society. Maybe there’s not. It does not really matter because the entire premise is based on a misunderstanding of our call to be in the world.
In John 17, Jesus mentioned that we are not from this world, but that he is sending us into it. We have shortened his prayer to the saying that we are “in the world, but not of it.” Somehow, we have transformed Jesus’s belief that we would be a people that transforms the world through love, into a command that we are stuck in this world but we should quarantine ourselves from it so we can remain pure. We have changed it to mean the exact opposite thing.
The world is not trying to overtake us or overthrow us. They are already the dominate force around us. We are the ones trying to transform their world. We are the invading force, fighting for their liberation from sin and death. If we fear the ones we are meant to love and redeem, then we cannot accomplish our true mission of finalizing the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.Christians are an invading force, trying to liberate the world from sin and death Click To Tweet
Bonus Lesson Learned:
There are a lot, possibly even a majority, of Christians that already know this. Just read through the comments on the post from the Wally Show. It’s full of people applauding Wally’s response, disagreeing with the callers, and showing their support for an inclusive love, without overlooking the ways in which we all need to grow.
It’s important to remember that we are all prone to hate, fear, or disregard the people we vehemently disagree with. I struggle everyday with having patience and love for my “Christian” neighbor that speaks from a place of fear and hatred. As soon as I give into that hate, however, I become the very thing I am fighting against.
So, while it’s easy to point fingers at judgmental people, we must remember that our God calls us to love our enemy and to seek their redemption, not their destruction. Those same three lessons above apply to me as much as to anyone else, I just aim my judgement at different groups.
God loves the people I hate, and I pray that we can grow in love together for everyone.